The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New Spelt Sourdough starter smell

flouryhands's picture

New Spelt Sourdough starter smell


A 2 day old starter I made using 100g filtered water and 50g spelt was very much alive but the smell took me by surprise - it was similar to smoked mackerel but sweeter and a bit sickly - a bit off-putting to be honest so I threw it away just in case it had picked up something bad.

For the next batch I used a brand new bag of spelt and a clean sterilised container and made up 50g spelt with 50g filtered water and 2 days on it's alive but has a similar but milder version of the smell of the first batch.

Is this sweet/smokey smell just characteristic of a spelt starter?  For my next "feed" I'll add white flour to see if this changes the character.










Lechem's picture
Lechem (not verified)

Starters often go through a leuconostoc stage (bad bacteria) in the first few days. Starters can smell like smelly socks to vomit (sorry!). If you persevere and feed when the time is right the bad stuff will die off and make way for the good stuff. 

Have you made a starter before or is this your first time?

phaz's picture

As lechem said, you've been spooked by the leuc - as have many of us.. But nothing to worry about. I usually give a small feed once things die down, then feed a small amount every other day for a few days, or until you see signs of activity - which won't be much if any at all for a few days or more.

Hamhocks's picture

I have noticed that depending on the proportion I use to regular flour, it's not pleasant. It's a very fleeting smell though. I catch a whiff of football locker room grade stink, and then it disappears.